Each year on May 5, we celebrate the International Day of Midwives, paying our particular respects to this dignified professional cadre. This year, the International Confederation of Midwives has declared the theme of the day to be “Follow the data, invest in midwives”, which resonates deeply with UNFPA’s global mission to achieve zero preventable maternal deaths by 2030. Evidence clearly shows that increased investments in midwifery services can achieve this ambitious target, ever more acute due to the results of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
This 2021, the International Day of Midwives also coincides with the launch of the State of the World's Midwifery Report, which provides an updated evidence based and detailed analysis of midwifery workforce across the globe. The release of the report gives us a unique opportunity to see and showcase the profound impact midwives have on national development to decision-makers around the world, including in Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh, the contributions of midwives to maternal and child health have been evident since midwifery was introduced as a separate cadre in the national health system since 2013. Throughout, UNFPA has supported the Government of Bangladesh in training and deploying midwives to communities around the country, including in areas affected by cyclones and the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar. The results have been overwhelmingly positive, with communities constantly asking for the availability of midwifery services to expand.
Despite these promising developments, a lot of work remains to be done. The rate of home based deliveries in Bangladesh still remains high at 53.7% and there is a need to deploy even more midwives to all parts of the country. These challenges can only be addressed through increased investments to ensuring that the services of midwives remain available in health facilities throughout the country.
Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, we are determined to reach the targets set in the Global Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030. Together in joined efforts with the Government and our other partners we can, and will, create an enabling environment for midwives, where they can most effectively serve the needs of pregnant mothers and their families around the country.
As UNFPA, we particularly look forward to continuing to improve the quality of midwifery education in the country, as well as supporting the Government in developing an effective regulatory framework for midwifery services. In addition to that the midwives are capacitate to provide services for Postpartum family planning and prevention and management of Gender based violence which are important mandate for UNFPA.
Above all, we aspire to continue to be a trusted partner providing guidance and support to all midwifery practitioners and teachers in these challenging times. It is our duty to ensure that midwives are safe and well, as they continue to heroically protect the health and safety of mothers and newborns around the country amidst this crisis, and they will be essential in building back safer, and healthier.
Dr. Asa Torkelsson
UNFPA Representative in Bangladesh